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Montclair State grad Larry Mangino plays pivotal role on Virginia men’s basketball team

Larry Mangino has definitely flourished in the coaching circuit, bringing 28 years of experience to the table. He started out as an assistant men’s basketball coach at George Washington University from 1986-91, Yale 1984-86 and Air Force Academy 2000-07. However, Mangino attributes his success to his time spent at his alma mater Montclair State University.


Mangino is a 1983 graduate of the school, earning a bachelor’s degree in physical education and was a three-year basketball letter winner where he was part of the 1981 regional championship team and graduate assistant coach from 1983-84.


Mangino’s first head coaching position was at Clark University in Massachusetts from 1991-96, later moving on to Ferrum College in Virginia from 1996-2000. “In Division 3 the teaching game has to be at the highest level because you are not getting a finished product and you are getting guys doing it for love of the game but not as athletes, tall or skilled, said Mangino. There are no scholarships and to have success as a team you have to be organized. You have to teach the basketball fundamentals”


From 2008-10 Mangino had the opportunity to work for the NBA’s Denver Nuggets as the player development coach. “The NBA Development is really high and these guys want to stay in the league and make money and do well, Mangino said. They are receptive to teaching and George Karl and Tim Grgurich are two of the best teaching coaches in the NBA. Tim is well respected as one of the best NBA developmental guys around”


From 2010-12 Mangino spent time as the assistant coach on SMU’s men’s basketball team before taking over the athletic director position at Charlottesville High School from 2013-16. With Mangino’s daughter attending the University of Virginia, Mangino decided to stop by the men’s basketball team practice one day and started asking questions about X’s and O’s.


“After a couple of years of asking Tony(Bennett) questions, he asked me on a Friday that I have an ope spot and if I’m interested, said Mangino. “I almost pulled a hamstring after resigning from my job to get here. I have been here three years and a wonderful place. Tony Bennett has established a great culture in 10 years here”


“Tony Bennett’s five pillars are passion, unity, servanthood, humility and thankfulness that are not just words on the wall but we talk about all the time and expect that as of a staff. Tony sets the tone but we watch for each other and pretty cool place to work at. We are very specific about the players we want in this program and make sure they fit the pillars. Everybody finds their role and contributes in what ever success to this group”


“Anything I can add that would fit our group I share with Tony. With so much experience I have the X’s and O’s and basic philosophy in watching games and making suggestions and adjust what is working and not”


Settling into his new job as director of scouting/recruiting, Mangino along with the coaching staff and team had to face the reality of life with the riots in Charlottesville during the summer of 2017. “We talked about it as a team and said let’s be a light of positivity to unite the community, Mangino said. We have kids on this team from New Zealand, Australia, Guinea, Africa, Italy, Indiana and New York blending together”


Last season the Cavaliers went 31-3 and won the ACC Tournament but the season ended up defined by one loss as the team became the first number one seed to be upset by a number 16 in UMBC in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. “It was horrible and had to take the things away from one loss, said Mangino. With the internet and social media and our players has to live that with that for a solid year”


Despite not winning the ACC Tournament this season, Virginia still earned a number one seed and faced an uphill battle in their first round against 16th seed Gardner-Webb down 14 in the first half before rallying for a 71-56 victory. The road did not get any easier for the Cavaliers narrowly defeating Oregon by four points, Purdue in overtime Auburn by a single point in the Final Four and dramatic overtime win over Texas Tech in the national championship game.


“Last year’s loss put us in a spot so mentally tough and we didn’t fold, Mangino said. We have been in tough moments before and where we had such belief in these guys. It was almost like destiny after it was so hard last year. Down to Texas Tech and struggling and all of sudden get to OT and knew Kyle Guy was going to make those three shots and has been doing since he was eight years old. As a group these kids were so resilient and perseverance was unbelievable. 66-6 in the last two years and so special this year and happy for our guys”


“To go through this tournament and do what we accomplished. Some of the games were crazy with overtimes and miracle shots. I’m still at the surreal stage and have to pinch myself who we’re playing next. We won our last game and no one to play. I have been coaching a long time and this is the first time I have ended with a win”


“De’Andre Hunter is a Top 10 NBA Draft pick, defending at a high level, 6’8 and moves well and can score. Put him with Ty Jerome at 6’5, a point guard who can shoot and Kyle Guy at 6’2 a bouncy shooter and a classic Hoosier kid who is going to make some three’s and rebounds well. The core three of (Mamadi)Diakite, Kyle(Guy) and Ty(Jerome) have been steady as far as being able to score”


“The intangible was our consistent defense and been in games all the time because our defense is food and don’t get on the court unless you play defense here, keep it close and score a little bit you are going to get some separation nd have some success”


“As I was getting on the bus go to the arena for the national title game I called my coach at Montclair State, Ollie Gelston and he knew it and could not believe I was calling in. I have gotten a bunch of calls from former teammates congratulating me”


Celebrating alongside Mangino in the national championship win on Monday April 8th  was his wife Ann and two daughters Chelesa and Grace. “They have lived it, when your dad is a coach it’s a different life. When they were 8 and 10 years old I was coaching at Air Force and pretty successful. They are in the stands yelling at the opposing free throw shooter to get them to miss and now 26 and 24 and in Minnesota getting Texas Tech players to miss a foul shot. To get those hugs after the game and confetti coming down I’m getting chills right now”


“My daughter(Chelsea) is one of six females working for a men’s basketball program(Liberty University) and won a game in the tournament. MY other daughter(Grace) is on the women’s side as an administrator and made the NCAA Tournament last year. I didn’t anticipate this and thought they would go into a different field but it’s working out right now”


Paying it forward off the court as well, Mangino has worked as a clinician at several major basketball camps including the Boston Celtics rookie and free agent camp and active in the Big Brother program.


“The chance to use basketball to help young people and teach them life lessons is real and not pretending, said Mangino. If I’m speaking at a camp talking to a kid about basketball I’m trying to sneak in some life lessons. What we went through against UMBC a life lesson and could have folded up like a tent. We said no and we’re getting off the deck. I’m trying to teach kids to be better basketball players and people”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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